Tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh: Dè am math an òrd mhòr 's an doras fosgailte co-dhiù

Tha seanfhacal Gàidhlig ann a tha ag ràdh: “An duine a tha cinnteach gur e tha ceart, ‘s ann aige as lugha tha fios.”

Tha ginealachan de dhaoine anns na h-eileanan a chaidh a thogail ann an teaghlaichean Gàidhlig air an cùlaibh a chur rithe
Tha ginealachan de dhaoine anns na h-eileanan a chaidh a thogail ann an teaghlaichean Gàidhlig air an cùlaibh a chur rithe

[English-language version below]

Thuirt Socrates (chan e an cluicheadair ball-coise Brasilianach) rudeigin coltach ris: “‘S ann tro bhith a’ tuigsinn nach eil fios agad air càil, a thig fìor ghliocas.”

Tha feallsanachd mar sin a-riamh air a bhith na pàirt den Ghàidhlig – seall cho cudromach ‘s a bha agus a tha bàrdachd – ach bho chionn ghoirid, chan eil cus coltais de spiorad an fheallsanaiche air a bhith mu timcheall.

Le co-labhairt gu bhith air a cumail ann an Steòrnabhagh an ath mhìos gus bruidhinn mu chrìonadh na Gàidhlig ann an coimhearsnachdan eileanach, bha e dualtach gun tigeadh spionnadh às ùr san deasbad, gu h-àraid agus cor na cànain ann an suidheachadh cho caochlaideach.

Air an aon làimh, cha robh riamh an uimhir de thaic ann. Tha na mìltean mòra air an tàladh thuice gach là tro rudan mar app Duolingo is BBC Alba, ach air an làimh eile, tha i gus sìoladh às mar chànan coimhearsnachd anns na h-eileanan, sgìre a chanadh mòran a tha mar dhachaigh dhi.

Le inbhe nas àirde, thig sgrudadh nas mionaidiche agus tha grunn luchd-sgrìobhaidh air a ràdh sna làithean ud nach eil iad a’ faicinn a’ chànain mar rud a tha a' bualadh orra-san, leis gun deach an togail ann an àrainneachd eile.

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Tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh gu bheil margaidh an fhearainn a-mach à rian

Cho cinnteach ‘s a tha a’ ghrian ag èirigh sna madainnean, bha cuid de luchd na Gàidhlig a’ faireachdainn gum feumadh iad bruidhinn a-mach an aghaidh seo. Gabhaidh a thuigsinn, ach ‘s ann a tha e ann an cunnart barrachd cron a dhèanamh.

Bha àm ann nuair a dh’fheumadh na Gàidheil a dhol air an casan airson an t-àite aca fhèin a dhìon, ach tha sin air atharrachadh agus bu chòir dol a-mach atharrachadh dha rèir. Dè am math a th’ anns an òrd mhòr, nuair tha an doras fosgailte co-dhiù.

Ma tha daoine ann a tha a’ faireachdainn gum feum iad cur sìos air a’ Ghàidhlig, ‘s ann a bu chòirear faireachdainn duilich air an son. Chan eil iad ach a’ dol an aghaidh an t-sruth ‘s chan eil ann ach beachd.

Seall an-dràsta: Tha mi fhèin coma co-dhiù mu opara (rud a tha faighinn taic bhon sporan phoblach) ‘s chan eil ma ga thuigsinn, ach faodaidh mi gabhail ris g’ eil beachdan eile ann agus g’ eil àite aige ann an farsaingeachd cultar na h-Alba ‘s an là a tha ann.

Tha mi glè chinnteach nan togainn mo ghuth na aghaidh nach fhaighinn aon èisteachd – agus sin mar a tha còir aig luchd na Gàidhlig dèiligeadh le daoine nach eil airson an rud againn fhèin a thuigsinn. Leig dhaibh a bhith beò ann an aineolas.

Chan e inbhe na Gàidhlig san t-seagh sin idir an cunnart as motha. Tha sin a’ laighe nas fhaisge air an dachaigh.

Tha ginealachan de dhaoine a chaidh a thogail ann an teaghlaichean Gàidhlig air an cùlaibh a chur rithe ‘s iad a’ faireachdainn nach b’ ann dhaibh a bha i agus gun robh saoghal corporra na Gàidhlig na srainnsear.

Nam faighte air sin a chur ceart, dheanadh e mòran son a’ chùis a chur air bunait nas cinntiche, ged nach eil e idir na fhreagairt na aonar.

Sin far am bu chòir barrachd dhan amas a bhith agus chan ann a bhith a’ dol an sàs ann an argamaidean gun fheum a tha dìreach ann an cunnart droch shealladh a thoirt air luchd na cànain; g’ eil sinn fada ro dhùinte ri beachdan is seallaidhean dhaoine eile. Leis an eachdraidh a tha air a bhith aig a’ Ghàidhlig, nach ann an sin a-nis a bhiodh am peacadh.

English-language version:

There’s an old Gaelic saying that, roughly translated, goes: “The man who is most sure he is right is the one who knows the least.”

Socrates (not the Brazilian footballer) said something similar: “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

Philosophical meanderings of the kind have long been a part of Gaelic culture – witness the importance given to poetry – but moments of reflection and calm understanding have maybe been a little too absent recently.

The prospect of a conference in Stornoway next month to discuss the decline of the language in its island heartlands was always likely to spark new life into the debate, as the future of the language stands at a peculiar crossroads.

On the one hand, it has never enjoyed such a high profile. Thousands of non-speakers have their interest piqued in it daily through the likes of the Duolingo app or BBC Alba, yet its fortunes as a community language are teetering on the very edge of collapse.

That higher profile also comes with greater attention and a number of commentators have felt the need recently to express the view that the language has little relevance to their daily lives, having been brought up with only a passing realisation of Scotland’s indigenous tongue.

Predictably, almost as sure as night follows day, it has led to the raising of Gaelic heckles and some fierce arguments in defence which, understandable as that may be, may actually prove self-defeating.

There was a time when the Gael had to fight to defend his or her relevance, after generations of prejudice and official malevolence. But that atmosphere has changed and so, too, must Gaelic speakers adapt their approach. No need for the sledgehammer if the door is already open.

If there are those who wish to express indifference, then, quite frankly, so be it. I myself am (to say the least) indifferent to opera and find it utterly incomprehensible, but that’s of no consequence and I can easily accept that it has its part to play in the wider cultural kaleidoscope of Scotland.

Just as my thoughts on opera (which receives public funding) may be justifiably ignored, so should supporters of the language let the most hostile Gaelic elements be. They are on the wrong side of the curve in any case.

The real danger to the future of the language lies not through its wider engagement, but within.

Generations of those in the islands raised in Gaelic homes have drifted away from the language, fuelled by a sense it was no longer for them and feeling increasingly isolated from its official corporate body.

If a means can be found to put that dislocation right, it would provide a far more solid foundation for fixing the current predicament it finds itself in.

That's where the focus should be and not on an approach which may create the impression of intolerance to others. Given Gaelic’s own history, that would be the ultimate hypocrisy.

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